Shaw takes checkered flag at Beech Ridge

By Lloyd Jones

CONWAY — Andy Shaw loves racing at Beech Ridge Motor Speedway in Scarborough, Maine, and the Center Conway resident continued to have success on the oval Saturday night when he brought home the checkered flag, winning the 40-lap race for PASS Modifieds.

With the win, the five-time and reigning PASS Modfied title holder closed to within 3 points of the top spot in the driver standings. Shaw currently has 990 points and sits in second place behind Dixfield, Maine's Ryan Robbins, who has 993 points.

"I'm within three points of the lead at this point in the season," Shaw said by phone Monday. "I feel good with where we're at. We had a good day on Saturday."

Robbins, who was fourth on the tour last year, was a victim of a multi-car wreck that Shaw was able to avoid midway through the race.

For the season, Shaw is 10 for 10 in Top 10 finishes with eight Top 5 results along with three victories.

On Saturday, Shaw started 13th in the field, but was able to work his way to fifth within the first handful of laps. The complexion of the race changed during a wreck.

"One car went from one lane to another and wrecked," Shaw said. "That wrecked a bunch of cars. Fortunately, I was able to sneak through."

Shaw sat sixth on the restart, but managed to pass everyone.

"My car was way better up high (on the track) Shaw said as it took him seven laps to pass the five cars in front of him.

Shaw took the lead with 13 laps to go and never looked back, driving the No. 0 car into Victory Lane.

Bruce Helmuth, of Wales, Maine, claimed runner-up honors, while Dana Reed of Shapleigh, Maine, picked up the third-place trophy.

Shaw said the car didn't handle well in the heat race.

"It just wasn't good at all," he said. "I told the crew chief (Phil Butterfield) let's make a change."

The crew increased the right rear spring rate by 200 pounds, and Shaw noticed and immediate difference.

"It really flew," he said, smiling.

Shaw has enjoyed great success at Beech Ridge.

"I love the track," he said. "Andy Cusack, who owns the track, said to me afterwards, have you ever lost a race here? I've done well here.

"It's the kind of race track that's not dictated completely by how the car is handling," Shaw explained. "As a driver you can make adjustments, which I like."

Sumner and Janet Sessions own the Sessions No. 0 car. Shaw's pit crew is Butterfield, Robbie LaRose and Danny Nash.

The Pass Modified Tour heads to White Mountain Speedway in North Woodstock this weekend. The tour is back in Maine at Oxford Plains Speedway in Oxford on Oct. 15.

Roberts named assistant softball coach at Holy Cross

WORCESTER, Mass. — Holy Cross head softball coach Jen Lapicki announced the hiring of Whitney Roberts as an assistant coach on Sept. 6. Roberts will work primarily with the program's pitching staff.

"I am excited to have Whitney joining our staff and the program," said Lapicki. "She is an extremely talented coach who has a sincere passion for the game and student-athlete development. Whitney's playing and coaching experience, combined with her knowledge and dedication to the game makes her a valuable asset to our staff and program."

Roberts recently served as the pitching coach for the Gilford High School softball team from 2015-2016. Additionally, she has been active as the director of softball operations for the Concord Cannons since 2012. Filling the role as head coach for the Cannons' U-18 squad, she's totaled a record of 107-34 and led the team to five tournament championships.

Since 2014, Roberts has been working as the Diamond Gems travel pitching coach, as well as the summer camp director for the Concord Sports Center, where she also serves as the lead softball instructor. Roberts was also the pitching coach for both the Newfound High School girl's softball team and for Lakes Region Softball.

As the assistant varsity softball coach at Pembroke Academy during the 2014-2015 season, Roberts helped the team to the final four in the New Hampshire State Tournament. She holds her Amateur Softball Association (ASA) umpire certification in addition to an Achieve, Certify, Educate (ACE) Level Five coaching certification.

Supplementary to her coaching endeavors, Roberts has engaged in administrative duties through being an ASA tournament director since 2011. Over the course of five years, she has been the tournament director for the NE Xtreme Showcase in 2014, ASA U-18 state tournament in 2013, Cannons Classic tournament in 2012 and the Mount Washington Valley tournament in 2011.

Roberts was a member of the Barry University softball team from 2011-2012 before transferring to Plymouth State University, where she was a pitcher for the Panthers from 2012-2015, serving as team captain during her junior and senior seasons.

At Plymouth State, Roberts earned New Hampshire Union Leader Athlete of the Month recognition in 2014 and was selected as the All-Little East Conference (LEC) second team pitcher from 2013-2015. She was also named LEC Pitcher of the Week in 2014 and LEC Rookie of the Week in 2013. She was a member of the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) from 2012-2015.

Roberts received her bachelor's degree in biological science education from Plymouth State in 2015 and is currently working towards her master's degree in athletic administration.

 

Sares returns to the powerlifting circuit

CONWAY — Ted Sares has been in the gym — he's hoping that work will pay off as he prepares to head into a busy fall powerlifting schedule.

The North Conway resident's last event was in April 2016. Sares says he is eager to get back on the platform. He has been training intensely with Angel Williams and figures to hit his peak around the end of August and then will slow it down until his next event which is The Hayward Memorial" in Fairhaven, Vt., on Sept. 10.

Sares also plays golf just about every day to keep his hand-eye coordination sharp and his legs engaged.

Almost 80, Sares broke some national records in Fairhaven last year, but he has nagging wrist injuries resulting from a fall unrelated to training, that may prevent a repeat, especially in the bench press. Still, he is determined to break his own record in the squat.

On Oct. 29, Sares plans to travel to Heavy Metal Gym in Laconia to compete in the "Beasts of the East" Tournamament.

He plans to wind up a busy year by entering the second annual "SPF New England Power Challenge" at the Red Island CrossFit in Smithfield, RI.

As he moves into 2017, Sares said he is looking at the possibility of extending his reach and competing in California, Las Vegas, and maybe down south, but there are lots of contingencies. He also aims to win his fourth consecutive EPF Nationals Championship in Johnson, R.I. in April.

Heading towards 80, the deceptively strong Sares will compete in an exclusive category — he is especially proud even now on being one of the very oldest raw powerlifters in the world.

 

Great Glen Trails to host trail race fundraiser for local Olympian Sean Doherty on Sept. 18

PINKHAM NOTCH — Great Glen Trails, along with the White Mountain Milers, Big Dave's Bagels and Julbo, are organizing the second annual Great Glen 7K Trail Race to benefit the training of local Mount Washington Valley Biathlete, Sean Doherty on Sept. 18t.

The race will take place on the beautiful single-track of Great Glen Trails at the base of the Mount Washington Auto Road. It's a low key race that is open to all ages and abilities for both runners and walkers.

"The whole event is really about coming out and showing support for Sean. He's an inspiration to a lot of us here in the valley with his hard work to be at the top level of his sport," noted Paul Kirsch, race director for the event.

Kirsch said 100 percent of the race proceeds will go to Doherty to support his training.

"As a member of the U.S. Biathlon Team, much of Sean's training is covered, but some of his travel and other training equipment expenses are covered through fundraising efforts like this race," Kirsch said.

The race costs $20 to enter or $50 for a family. Online registration is available along with more information at www.whitemountainmilers.com Day of registration will also be available. The race starts at 9 a.m.

Doherty will be at the event and is always happy to meet people, sign fan cards and talk about the sport he loves.

"Last year we had a great vibe at the event," said Kirsch. "People coming out for a great day outside, getting a chance to learn a little about biathlon and support a local as he strives for great accomplishments."

Jackson Biathlon will also be there at the event, providing people a chance to see and try some of the equipment that is used for biathlon.

Doherty grew up skiing the trails of New Hampshire and in 2013 he became the first biathlete in history to win three medals at the Junior World Biathlon Championships. Doherty competed in his first World Cup and then proceeded to join the circuit as part of the US Men's squad during the 2013-2014 season. In 2014 he became the youngest biathlete to compete in the Winter Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia. Today he continues to race on the World Cup circuit as part of the US Men's Biathlon Team, building on his already impressive career at 20 years old.

To learn more about Sean, visit his website at seandoherty-biathlete.com

 

Locke, fellow relievers look to 'edit the dream'

By Stephen J. Nesbitt

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Two uncomfortable truths of life in the bullpen, left-hander Jeff Locke has learned since moving there, are his feet hurt from wearing spikes every day, and it's no longer cool to crush five cheesesteaks like he could have when his turn in the rotation still was a few days away.

Whether he actually scarfed five cheesesteaks isn't the point. Not until his doctor says so, anyway.

The point is the transition from starter to reliever isn't always easy, though it is awfully common. When Mark Melancon, a reliever every day of his professional baseball career, was traded in July, the Pirates were left with a bullpen composed entirely of converted starters. Locke is the latest, joining right-hander Juan Nicasio as the Pirates' long relievers who started the season in the rotation.

And if Locke is being honest, which he was Wednesday, he didn't grow up dreaming of this role.

"You don't get up in the morning and say, 'I want to be the long guy,' you know?" he said, a few hours before throwing a scoreless fifth inning against the San Francisco Giants. "That's like being the long snapper on a football team. No one dreams of it, but if you're good at it you go there."

So far, he's been good. After posting a 5.86 ERA over 19 starts this season, Locke entered the weekend having thrown 7⅓ scoreless innings in relief. He'd scarcely ever pitched out of the bullpen, though he fondly recalled a game May 29, 2008, when then-Atlanta Braves closer John Smoltz threw two innings in a rehab start with Class A Rome, and Locke went the last seven.

Almost every pitching prospect begins his climb to the majors as a starter, getting more innings and more experience. Eventually, some are bound for the bullpen. Sure, right-hander Jared Hughes conceded, the change can be hard, dashing a boyhood dream of pitching a complete game in Game 7 of the World Series. But it often puts a pitcher on a quicker path to the majors.

"You've got to edit the dream a little bit," Hughes said. "But to pitch in the major leagues, I don't care what they want me to do, I'm going to do it with a smile on my face."

A reality check

Hughes bristled at the notion the Pirates' relievers were "failed starters" once upon a time. Tony Watson wasn't a shabby starter in the minors, Hughes said, recalling Watson took his spot in the Class AA Altoona rotation in 2010 and struck out 10 over six innings in the Eastern League final.

A flexor strain in 2009 had forced Watson to the bullpen for the Arizona Fall League. He opened the 2010 season with a 1.84 ERA in 25 relief appearances for Altoona, pitching two to four innings a pop, and then made nine starts late in the season. In 2011, the Pirates bullpen needed help, so Watson and Hughes returned to relief and rocketed to the majors.

"At that point, it's: What's the fastest way to get to the big leagues and stick?" Watson said. "It was to be a left-handed reliever out of the bullpen. This is where everybody wants to be. Everybody wants to pitch in the big leagues. ... I obviously never saw myself as a closer."

Left-hander Antonio Bastardo started five games as a rookie for the National League champion Philadelphia Phillies in 2009 before moving to the bullpen during winter ball. Lefty Felipe Rivero was a starter until the Washington Nationals made the switch at the end of spring training last year.

"It actually turned out very good, I think," said Rivero, who has a 3.38 ERA in 105 appearances.

Locke started alongside right-hander Neftali Feliz for two seasons in the Braves minor league system. Once in the majors, Feliz pitched three strong seasons in relief before Joe Nathan's arrival prompted the Texas Rangers to put Feliz in the rotation in 2012. He had a 3.16 ERA in seven starts, including a complete game, before undergoing Tommy John surgery. He has not started since.

"When I was a child, my biggest dream was just to play in the big leagues," Feliz said through interpreter Mike Gonzalez. "It wasn't so much about being a starter or a reliever."

Locked into reality

Locke understands why he was been bumped from the rotation. In a career plagued by inconsistency, the bar set by an All-Star first half in 2013, he was even more uneven this season.

"Hit or miss," Locke said, describing his starts. "Penthouse or outhouse. That's the way the games were. They were either really good, or piss-poor bad. There was no in-between."

The lefty tossed his first career shutout May 30, a three-hitter, and followed with seven innings of three-run ball June 4. In his next two outings, however, Locke was shelled for 18 earned runs.

"At that point, [Jake] Arrieta had only given up 18 on the season," he said. "I gave that up in a week."

Whether his future returns him to the Pirates rotation, or keeps him in Pittsburgh, Locke said he is proud of the fact he made every start for three years. There were no late scratches, no blisters or hangnails or trips to the disabled list. Not many lefties in the majors can say that, Locke said.

The pace of the bullpen has been difficult to adjust to. Rather than have four days to prep, Locke said, "it's ring ring — get Locke ready — and as soon as that happens you see [pitching coach] Ray Searage walk out to the mound to give you a minute. Next batter, you're in."

There is a certain mental drain to constantly standing watch. And when games get close, that's typically when a long reliever knows he won't work that day. Asked if he could grow to like a bullpen job, Locke said he imagines a specified late-inning role would be an adrenaline rush.

Still, he would prefer to start, the way he always has.

"It's tough," Locke said. "It's hard to be used to doing something for so long and taking your time and making sure you stay healthy, don't do anything stupid, but now it's just go time. ...

"I'm frustrated of course that I have to go to the bullpen, but maybe it will be helpful."

So it's like what Hughes said. Sometimes you've got to edit the dream a little bit.

"Edit the dream?" Locke repeated. "Yeah. That's a good way of putting it."